Benefits of Flatbed Scanners

Scanners are used to turn paper documents into digital files that can be stored on a computer hard drive.  It is often essential in business and in your personal life to keep an accurate record of important transactions, and the ability to scan receipts, invoices, images, etc. into computer files helps to keep everything organized.

There are two standard types of scanners- flatbed and sheet-fed:

Flatbed Scanner

This is a standard flatbed scanner. This does not feature an automatic document feeder.

Sheet-Fed Scanner

This is a sheet-fed scanner. Because of the paper path, only individual sheets can be scanned.












Flatbed scanners are becoming more and more common, both as single-purpose scanners and as a part of multipurpose machines, like the Epson WorkForce 600.  Listed below are some of the benefits of using flatbed scanners instead of sheet-fed scanners.


Flatbed scanners often scan at much higher quality than sheet-fed scanners.  The text files will be crisp and easy to read while the color image files will have vivid coloring that is true to the original.   Flatbed scanners typically offer larger color depths and can reach resolutions that more than double that of sheet-fed scanners.  Because of the flatbed technology, which requires the scanning sensor to pass under the still document, rather than the document passing over the sensor, the results are often more precise and clear than they are with a sheet-fed scanner.


Automatic document feeder (ADF) units are often attached to the lid of flatbed scanners, increasing speed of production by continuously feeding the documents placed in the ADF tray over the scanning surface.  Using this method may reduce quality a bit, but the speed and efficiency may be worth the tradeoff.

Scanner with ADF

The ADF is a tray on top of the protective scanner lid. It will hold multiple documents and supply a continuous feed across the scanning surface. This allows multi-page documents to be scanned without supervision.



The problem with sheet-fed scanners is how true they are to the name; only a single page can be scanned at a time and any document that is thicker than average will not be able to be pulled through the paper path.  Flatbed scanners do not have these limitations.  You can scan a page from a textbook, an old Polaroid photo or even a body part if you so choose.  You can scan a photo ID or 4×6″ photo, which is not an option on a sheet-fed scanner with only a standard input tray.


Some flatbed scanners have the ability to scan both sides of a document at the same time when using the ADF.  This is referred to as duplex scanning.  These machines are designed to be exceptionally easy to use, which also helps the rate of production.  With specialty adapters, some flatbed scanners can scan film negatives.


Scanning is essential to homes and offices, especially for record-keeping and organization purposes.  This technology is making faxing obsolete and limiting paper usage, which is beneficial to the budget and the environment.  Though you may get more speed out of a sheet-fed scanner, the flatbed scanners offer versatility and quality that make them more appealing for personal and professional use.

Robyn Warner
Robyn Warner has been writing since she learned how to hold a pen. She wrote her first book of poems before the age of 10. Though creative writing is her preference, she is enjoying life in the technical blog world. Robyn’s goal in her 30s is to use her writing to inspire fellow cancer survivors and have a job that gives her the flexibility to live anywhere and never wear shoes.

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